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Small Businesses Must Have Digital Tech To Win Black Friday Sales

Shoppers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston might notice a new art installation this holiday season featuring products from local businesses. But these murals, a collaboration between American Express and Google, aren’t just for aesthetics — they create a fully shoppable experience, allowing consumers to scan and purchase the products they see.

“This is really thinking about how to put a new spin on traditional holiday shopping,” said Marianne Rausch, vice president of Shop Small and Small Business Saturday for American Express. “So, we’re building off of the beloved tradition that so many of us have of visiting holiday window displays.”

Rausch said the exact locations of the murals, which are painted by local artists from each community, will be announced later this month. In addition, American Express and Google are offering workshops for small business owners to help them bolster digital capabilities.

“Consumers are spending more across online as well as in-store than ever before,” Rausch said. “So really thinking about how you can expand customer reach across physical as well as digital touchpoints is incredibly key.”

The murals and workshops are part of American Express’ 12th Small Business Saturday, which includes a nationwide marketing campaign featuring the ways consumers can support local businesses, complete with downloadable resources for merchants to use for promotion. American Express is also launching a Shop Small x ByBlack marketplace powered by Showfield’s, an extension of the national ByBlack business directory of Black-owned businesses.

“Small Business Saturday has evolved over time to both meet new social needs as well as reflect changing consumer preferences,” Rausch said.

Related news: Mobile Wallets, Automated Receivables Key to Holiday 2021 Sales Success for Small Business

Reaping the Rewards of Investment

According to Deloitte’s Holiday Retail Forecast, the holiday shopping season is expected to reach nearly an estimated $1.3 trillion in total consumer spending for November and December, a 7% increase versus last year. PYMNTS data also show that nearly three-quarters of consumers plan to spend at least as much as they did last year, with 19% planning to spend more.

See also: Holiday Shopping Outlook Suggests ‘Amazon Christmas’ May Be Underway 

Rausch said that more than ever, merchants need to put their best foot forward to try to capture consumer spending.

“I know it’s been a challenging time for all merchants, but I think now is the time to think about investing at whatever level is possible in their retail experience, marketing and operational enhancements,” Rausch said. She added that small and mid-sized businesses also need to think about how they can tout what makes them “unique and special” through one-of-a-kind offerings and highly personalized service.

But merchants need to work sooner rather than later on connecting with customers. According to data from a UPS Proprietary Study, nearly 25% of people plan to finish their shopping before the traditional holiday shopping period starts, and 95% prefer to start their holiday shopping prior to Black Friday if promotions and sales are released earlier.

“Even for the people who aren’t going to complete their shopping before Black Friday, there’s definitely interest and appetite in getting started earlier this year,” Rausch said.

Meeting Consumer Preferences

It’s also crucial that merchants take their operations online, she noted — eCommerce sales are expected to account for more than $210 billion this year, up 15% compared to 2020, and 20% of shoppers are now conducting transactions through social media, according to Deloitte’s Holiday Retail Forecast.

“There’s a huge percentage of the market that you’re not taking advantage of if you’re not operating in that space,” Rausch said.

Additionally, regardless of where consumers choose to shop, they’re increasingly opting for digital-first approaches such as buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and are paying using their own devices in a contactless way, meaning that having those capabilities is no longer a want — it’s a need.

“To get the most out of this highly anticipated shopping season, small businesses should think about making their purchasing processes as versatile as possible to accommodate consumers’ demand for these options and for conveniences,” Rausch said.

Related news: New Pandenomics Study: 76% of SMBs Say Local Economies Still on Recovery Road

PYMNTS research has found that 44% of small to mid-sized merchants saw year-over-year growth in revenues in 2020 after they implemented touchless payment capabilities. Additionally, a recent survey conducted by American Express found that small and mid-sized businesses that have forgone these investments feel less confident that this year’s revenues will surpass 2020.

“We see that there can be a real, tangible impact to the businesses once they adopt these practices,” Rausch said.

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